Requirements for Spanish nationality

Table of contents

If you, like many other expatriates, also want to get Spanish nationality, here are the 5 most common requirements for Spanish nationality. Take note!


1. Be an eligible applicant

Can everyone apply for Spanish nationality? This is one of the questions that many of us ask ourselves when we think about making this application. The Ministry of Justice establishes who can apply for it and the first step before applying is to make sure that you meet these conditions for Spanish nationality:

  • A person who is over 18 years of age or emancipated.
  • Otherwise, a person over 14 years of age accompanied by his or her legal representative.
  • The legal representative of a person under 14 years of age.
  • A person with a judicially modified capacity, i.e. judicially incapacitated, as well as their legal representative.


2. Meeting the legal residence deadlines

This is undoubtedly one of the essential requirements for Spanish nationality by residence. Before making your application, Spanish law requires that you have lived in Spanish territory legally and continuously for at least 10 years and immediately prior to your application. This means that, when you submit your application, you must have been living in Spain for the last 10 years.

However, there are some cases in which Spanish law reduces the periods of residence:

  • 5 years: if you have got refugee status in Spain, the period of residence would be reduced to 5 years.
  • 2 years: this period applies to nationals of Latin American countries, as well as to Portugal, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Sephardic people.

But we have good news for you, it will be enough to have resided in Spain for one year if you meet some of the requirements for Spanish nationality set out in Article 22 of the Civil Code. We summarise them here:

  • If you were born in Spanish territory.
  • If you have not duly exercised your right to apply for nationality by option.
  • If you have been legally under guardianship, custody or foster care by a Spanish person or entity for two continuous years.
  • If you have been married to a Spanish person for at least one year at the time of submitting your application.
  • If you are the widow/widower of a Spanish person, as long as you were not separated at the time of his/her death.
  • If you were born outside Spain, but your parents or grandparents are originally Spanish.

Keeping the deadlines clear, it is important to know that, as part of the requirements for Spanish nationality, it is essential that you reside legally and stably before the process, as we have already seen, but also during the process. For this reason, you should be especially cautious with long term departures so that this doesn’t become a reason to reject your application. Many immigration lawyers recommend that you do not leave the country for more than 3 consecutive months while your application is being processed as a precautionary measure. As we say in Spain: Prevention is better than cure!


3. Passing the Spanish Nationality exams

Another of the most well-known conditions for Spanish nationality is the accreditation of a sufficient score in the DELE A2 and CCSE exams. These are two citizenship exams whose objective is to know your level of integration within Spanish territory.


Types of exams as requirements for Spanish nationality

There are two types of Spanish nationality exams and you will have to take both of them:

  • DELE A2: This is a language test which will assess whether you have a sufficiently high level of Spanish. However, if you come from Latin America you do not have to take this level test!
  • CCSSE: This is a cultural exam. The test consists of 25 multiple-choice questions, lasts 45 minutes and is conducted in Spanish. However, if you have studied ESO or Bachillerato in Spain, you do not need to take this test!The first 15 questions are related to Spanish government, legislation and citizen participation, while the remaining 10 are about Spanish culture, history and society. Although this is the test that expats who take it are most afraid of, at Moneytrans we have a recommendation that will be of great help to you! The Instituto Cervantes, which is in charge of organising these exams, publishes the most frequently asked questions and a manual with all the content. This way you can practise as much as you want before your exam and be more confident.

If you are thinking of taking the exam, we wish you the best of luck!


4. Show good civic behaviour

This is one of the most important requirements for Spanish nationality. Those expatriates who want to reside legally in Spanish territory must prove good civic conduct, but what is good civic conduct? It is a legal concept that is normally related to the absence of criminal or police problems. When an expatriate has a criminal record in his or her country of origin or in Spain, his or her chances of getting Spanish nationality are likely to be reduced.

However, this is a concept that in practice is ultimately to be assessed by the administration. For this reason, if you have a police record, you can ask the Ministry of Justice to review whether there is sufficient uncivil behaviour to deny your application for Spanish nationality. The recommendation is to apply for an expungement of your criminal record before starting your application for Spanish nationality.


5. Accrediting the necessary documentation

Before we begin to detail the most common documentation for your application, it is important that you bear in mind two fundamental issues:

  • Documents have a period of validity or expiry date. Submitting an expired document is one of the most common mistakes made in this type of application. That is why it is very important that you check that all your documents are valid, which will save you a lot of time and stress!
  • For a foreign document to be considered valid in Spanish territory, it must be apostilled, that is, legalised and translated by a certified translator authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Now that you know that your documentation must always be valid and duly apostilled, all you have to do is apply for it. But which one? It’ s very easy! The Ministry of Justice establishes a specific list of documents that you must present depending on the type of applicant you are, as we saw in the first point.

We share with you the documents that will accompany your application for Spanish nationality as an adult:

  • Application form or online form.
  • Foreigner’s Identity Card. Family Card of EU citizen or Certificate from the Central Register of Foreigners or the Register of EU citizens.
  • Passport.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Criminal record certificate from your country of origin.
  • Marriage certificate if you are married.
  • Proof of payment of fees.
  • Certificate of criminal record from the Central Register of convicted persons.
  • Certificate of census registration.
  • Diplomas from the Cervantes Institute for the CCSE and DELE exams.

If you meet all the conditions for nationality in Spain, it’s time to start the procedures for Spanish nationality! Follow us for more tips!

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The Moneytrans team has been specialising in financial services for migrant communities around the world for more than 20 years.

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